Bartender Birthday Bar Bash!

Boffo! Where would a bartender in Costa Rica be likely to hold her birthday party? If you guessed, “at the bar” you win a big, fat, possibly-Cuban cigar! I’m sure there are other places to celebrate, but why pass up a free drink? (or seven?) And after all, your actual birthday may not be the night of the party anyway, so why not have an extra party?

I’ve been to more than one of these affairs, so I feel qualified to describe the festivities. One thing you will almost always see when a birthday party is held in a bar is a pinata. If by some chance you have never seen a pinata and the ritual that goes along with it, the birthday girl is blindfolded and given a wimpy stick of some sort, like half of a broom handle.

The pinata is suspended from the ceiling on a rope and can be moved up and down by pulling on the rope. The “batter” then tries to land a solid blow or two on the pinata, and occasionally succeeds. If building construction in Costa Rica was as good as pinata construction, nobody would ever have to worry about an earthquake again. You don’t think papier mache is tough? Try breaking it with a half a broom handle. Lotsa luck.

After several minutes of flailing about, somebody (often the flailer) will take off the blindfold and start whacking away at the pinata as hard as possible. Still the pinata may resist. That’s when some ‘take-charge’ type will grab the stick and rare back and whack the pinata senseless, until finally it breaks and a dribble of cheap, hard candy falls on the floor, at which point there is a scramble to see who can get what. All I ever got were dirty knees, so I skip this part.

Once the pinata is done, the revelers go back to what they were doing before, usually drinking. If there is a DJ or a band there may be some dancing.

As often as not, some hors d’oeuvres will be served. How a bout a piece of fried hot dog on top of a cold, dry piece of plantain? How about some a quarter of a cheese sandwich on white bread? mmmmm.

Normally you would think that would be enough for anybody, but NO! Somebody will go around the crowd, paying particular attention to gringos, collecting money to hire some mariachis.

Now, you might think finding mariachis at the last minute but you would be WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

Why, just down the street is a mariachi bar, where groups of mariachis hang out, hoping somebody will come by with some money and pay them to stroll in and play and sing for some birthday girl.

Lots of pictures get taken as the mariachis put a Mexican style cowboy hat on the birthday girl and serenade her. Not the kind of thing you’d expect in Muncie, Indiana, but in San Jose, done deal.

Once the mariachis have done their thing and marched out, the bartender and her friends may or may not stick around a while, depending on if they feel like getting drunker or not and if the old gringos are still buying. If not, they will make a demure exit and head for either some local hotspot or perhaps just go home, if the babysitter is on the clock.

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  1. Whatever happened to Gisela, the bartender at The New York bar? She was a real looker